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Dooley, L. (1935). Sex: Fritz Wittels. 'Motherhood and Bisexuality.' The Psychoanalytic Review, April, 1934, Vol. XXI, No. 2, pp. 180–193.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 16:101-102.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Sex: Fritz Wittels. 'Motherhood and Bisexuality.' The Psychoanalytic Review, April, 1934, Vol. XXI, No. 2, pp. 180–193.

(1935). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 16:101-102

Sex: Fritz Wittels. 'Motherhood and Bisexuality.' The Psychoanalytic Review, April, 1934, Vol. XXI, No. 2, pp. 180–193.

Lucile Dooley

Four pathological cases are presented in which the neurosis is centred around the illusion of motherhood. Only one of these women became a real mother, the other three constructed illusions of motherhood. The first, a case of obsessional neurosis, envied her mother's possession of children, behaved toward children as she would have liked her mother to behave toward her, had guilt feeling after the death of her mother but desired to demonstrate to her father her ability to substitute successfully for her, and satisfied these desires and also a consuming penis envy by an illusionary motherhood. Her desire for motherhood was found to be not feminine but anal-sadistic in its foundation. It proved to be an attempt to reach the phallic phase by way of an illusion of motherhood.

The second was a woman of masculine type and pronounced homosexual tendencies who developed paranoia and fulfilled her passionate desire for motherhood delusionally.

The third, a masculine type, expressed in a delusion of pregnancy her revolt against her domineering mother and her disappointment in her husband for his not giving her a baby.

The fourth, a case of compulsive motherhood, was motivated by a desire for revenge on the mother, the child being equated to a penis, the possession of which signalized triumph over the mother. The death of her first child was felt as a castration to which she reacted with an obsessional desire for direct compensation in renewed pregnancies.

These cases go beyond the already known mechanism by which penis-envy is related to the desire for a baby, in that the patients use their pregnancy, real or imagined, as a confirmation of their illusioned masculinity. They feel that once they have children and can thus show the world that they are feminine beings, they have established the right to play the masculine rôle. This seeming paradox has been confirmed by the findings of psycho-analysis and also in other fields of investigation.

Psycho-analysis of children has shewn that all children up to a certain age regard their mothers as masculine beings and even after they have become aware of sex differences still cling for a long time to the myth that their mother, in contradistinction to all other women, possesses a phallus. Mythology of the Egyptians and some other peoples depicts the mother androgynously. From biology we have the supporting facts that pregnant women temporarily display secondary sex characteristics, that among even the most timid animals the female displays unusual aggressiveness in defence of her young, and that pregnancy itself is a bisexual product. Psychology bears witness to the fact that the child is not desired by lovers, who, in the height of their passion, think only of each other, but that only

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after conception are they forced down to earth by biological-social necessity. There are women who are never lovers but who long only for children, making clear the truth applying also to normal women that pregnancy may be regarded as a narcissistic regression. The narcissistic feelings cease after birth of the child and after a short interval the normal woman is again drawn towards the man. The rivalry with and identifications with the mother stressed by Helene Deutsch and others as motives for compulsive motherhood are really an overlying structure of the biological masculine-feminine principle which shapes its bisexuality in the form of motherhood or beauty, as Wittels has endeavoured to set forth in this and in a previous paper.

Among the defences against homosexuality, therefore, we find not only paranoia but also certain forms of feminine beauty and motherhood. It is possible that the pathological conflicts described above reveal in a crude and distorted form that which is also an intrinsic fact of normal motherhood.

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Article Citation

Dooley, L. (1935). Sex. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 16:101-102

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